Change reflects a one-stop-shop strategy

Bankers, brokers, fund mangers and insurance agents are adopting job titles that sound surprisingly similar, reflecting the fact that financial firms have shifted focus to gathering and managing assets rather than providing a particular specialized service, said Shealyn McGuire, a consultant at Cerulli Associates.

For example, McGuire said the term investment manager, a title that had not existed in the past, has come to mean any kind of financial professional, such as a fund manager, banker or broker.

'Investment manager' is just one of many ambiguous titles that have emerged recently. Job titles such as financial planner, financial consultant, investment planner or adviser can refer to either a broker or an insurance agent, McGuire said. She added that mutual fund managers and private bankers now go by the same moniker: investment, asset or wealth managers. Some brokers are 'so bold as to call themselves estate planners,' she said, adding that, until recently, very few brokers were estate planners.

The changes reflect the fact that firms and financial service professional are offering a greater variety and range of services than they have in the past in an effort to provide services to a larger number of affluent people, she said. In addition, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act allows firms to dip their toes into areas that were previously off limits.

Changes within the brokerage industry illustrate the shift particularly well. In the past, only elite brokers with extremely wealthy clients offered financial and estate planning. But now firms are requiring more mainstream brokers to learn about this area. 'Greater volume of high-net-worth and affluent clients may have encouraged traditional transaction brokers to learn about financial planning or estate planning,' McGuire said.

Like brokers, private bankers and insurance agents are also trying to reposition themselves to have better access to high-net-worth clientele. Since the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, banks have started selling brokerage products. They have also established brokerage units in an effort to compete with traditional brokerage houses for high-net-worth clients.

To market this change, bankers are now advertising themselves as financial consultants or advisers. Insurance agents are also in the game because they are competing with the banks and the brokerages to sell insurance products, such as annuities. So, they 'have also decided to rename their professional staff to reflect an advisory role,' she said.

Adapted from a story appearing on Financial Planning Interactive

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.